During the summer month's, if I am not in the kitchen you are surely able to find me out in the Garden. When buying a house one of the most important items on the must have list was space for a garden. Ever since living on my own I have always found a little patch of dirt to call my own whether it was a dilapidated pile of dirt that need to be brought back to life, containers on a porch or window boxes. My first garden at my very first apartment (I was around 19 or so) was small but produced tons that first year- I even had a little rabbit from next door that would frequently visit (and steal a bite of squash or two), I remember running out in the pitch dark after getting word about the first frost settling in that night to collect the tomatoes still ripe on the vine.
Growing up my Dad always had a garden and extensive perennial and annual gardens throughout the yard. I absolutely loved our backyard while growing up and still do. You could safely say I inherited my love of gardening and green thumb from my Dad. I literally can get lost up in the garden for hours at a time- trimming, picking away at the not so good bugs, talking to my plants telling them how great they are growing (it's not crazy, they really do listen and grow better when whispering sweet nothings to them). Gardening is hard work, but enjoyable and worthwhile, especially when you get to pick the first tomato of the season or spring radish.
Not only does the garden supply loads of food for Justin and I throughout the summer but also provides inspiration for the blog. Cooking with the seasons has always been very important to us, living in New England can pose some challenges in accomplishing this during the winter months but we do our best to eat locally and seasonally as often as we can. Having our own garden along with multiple farmers markets within walking distance from us makes this a relatively easy task during the summer and fall months.
You don't even need loads of space to grow your own food. A container with good soil will sustain many plants that grow in the ground. As you can see I have potatoes - both sweet and red; organic too! Growing in smart pots/bags, I also am growing sunflowers and lettuce in a metal round container and a rogue tomato in a smart pot. Old wine boxes, flower pots- any container that provides good drainage and plenty of soil can be used- get creative. Simply Google patio gardens and you will see what I mean!
I totally see many batches of kale chips and some killer kale salad in my future. This year I am growing 2 different types of kale - Lacinato (aka Dino kale - above) and Ragged Jack Kale aka Red Russian kale.
Kale is by far one of the easiest and hardiest greens I have grown- they grow relatively fast and are hard to kill! I do start them inside first to give them a head start and for an earlier harvest.
(and yes those are Crocs, and yes I promise I only wear them in the garden!)
There are absolutely bugs you want in your Garden, you actually want most bugs you find to make their home in your garden. I personally keep a laminated chart that has the good and bag bugs of the Northeast listed with a color photo at my Garden Bench and refer to it daily. Ladybugs are your friends, in addition to bug identification you also want to be aware of what their larvae look like (I made the mistake of killing a lady lug larvae once, they are scary looking! But never made that mistake again)
Providing the proper supports for your veggies is also really important- the better support the more energy they can put towards growing and bearing fruit for you. I love my bi fold lattice for any climbing vines- cukes, pumpkins & squash. Cages are best for tomatoes & cucumbers, get the largest cage you can find or build your own, there are tons of ideas on pinterest and loads of different ones you can buy online or at your local garden center. Just make sure to take in consideration the space you are working with. Each year I try a different support method for my tomatoes- I have yet to find the perfect set up, however this year I think I may have found it! I am using these cages that I purchased at Lowes.
Inter plant flowers in your garden.
Flowers = Bees= Better Veggie Yield
Plus flowers make everything pretty, attract beneficial bugs and some deter bad bugs!
There may be some tears, loads of sweat and maybe some blood, but all that blood, sweat and tears is worth it- growing your own food is pretty incredible, you will feel super accomplished!
Any garden, big or small is a garden worth having.
This year I am growing:
Mini Bell Peppers
Golden Banana Peppers
Red Chantey Carrots
Ragged Jack Kale
Snow White Cauliflower
Peacevine Cherry Tomato
Isis Candy Shop Cherry Tomato
Golden Nugget Cherry Tomato
Green Zebra Tomato
Hill Billy Tomato
Brandy wine Tomato
Easter Egg Radish
Long Island Cheese Pumpkin
Purple Peacock Broccoli
Teddy Bear Sunflowers
Red Potomac Potatoes
What are you growing in your Garden?
If you are interested, my all time favorite seed supplier is Hudson Valley Seeds
I feed my plants once a week with General Organics Vegan Plant Food
Feel free to send me an email or leave a comment if you have any gardening questions or advice I can help answer!